04 December 2014

A London Thanksgiving: Damn Crazy Americans

I made a turkey. Then people ate it. We were all surprised that everyone lived to tell the tale.

Last week was one of my favourite holidays to spend in London. Thanksgiving. It'll be my second year spending it here and it brings me no greater joy than to celebrate this very American holiday with my UK friends.

Daytime adventures. First party helping with turkey prep for second party.
Last year was very reserved, respectful and lovely. (Raise your hand if this makes you giggle to think of me hosting something so civilised. Yeah...thanks Mom.) I had my closest London friends round my flat for a sit down meal and quiet reflection on what we were thankful about.

This year was a good reflection of how I live my life now: occasionally tipsy, chatty, a complete disregard for any kind of diet, hey there cute dudes--let me feed you, tomorrow will someone reassure me that I did not indeed embarrass myself like I feel like I did, and Cards Against Humanity is always appropriate no matter the political climate.

This year, my Thanksgiving day plans were created on a drunk night out with another American expat. I had to be told the next day what these plans were. I'm like, Obama girls classy. Ammiriiiiight? (BOOM American Cultural Reference FOR THE WIN.)
Obama classy.

Boy, are the best plans made over drinks or what?

Planning on having fun. Thanksgiving involves mucho wine. Also comfy socks. 
I did a two pronged Thanksgiving assault onto my UK brothers and sisters. What resulted in basically me having an all day party for me and two separate parties for my friends. For the day party I invited all my classmates, co-workers, and actor-y friends, then I had a separate evening meal with my  longtime friends I've known ten years...and had so many people that it was more of a buffet party that involved Cards Against Humanity, several toasts, a slightly drunken giving thanks circle, and a lot of conversations I vaguely remember. It's safe to say that I was a pretty decent host at the first party and a fairly shit one at the second one. 

But I was surrounded by friends that are comfortable with this. I am thankful for these people. Also, I wasn't the only American there to represent. My old DC flatmate was in town on business and helped me bring the American cheer to our UK brethren. Just showing everyone what they're missing by not having crossed the pond so many years ago. 'MERICA.

Forcing all the Europeans to watch Charlie Brown at party 1. You're gonna watch it AND YOU'RE GONNA LIKE IT...even though everyone always feels slightly depressed after a Charlie Brown viewing. And that right there is a goddamn TRADITION.
I will think fondly upon those hazy memories. And the leftovers are just giving me great new memories. Like how one shouldn't really keep leftovers as long as I have, but damnit, I'm a rebel. And I'm kind of poor. And I spent a shit ton on that turkey and by God, I WILL CONSUME ALL LEFTOVERS.

Expensive turkey getting stuffed. There's a dirty joke here somewhere. Give me some time....

Friends. They're not American. But I'm sure they want to be after all that superfunadventuretime.

Google hangout with my family. While hosting a party. Also a little drunk. In my defence, so was my family though. My friends awkwardly watched this display while quietly stuffing their face with American themed dishes: Green bean casserole and Ranch's veggie dip.  I'm like Martha Stewart for my UK friends. So put together. 

I think the rest of the pictures are only from my day party. I started with Bloody Mary's and worked my way to the wine and champagne. Me handling my very expensive fancy camera for the evening party would not have been a wise choice. I'll just have to use the rest of my day time photos for a post on creating your very own Expat Thanksgiving.

Keep it classy London,
Lindsay xx

10 November 2014

Christmas Afternoon Tea at Conrad London St James

A little over a month ago I was invited to preview the afternoon Christmas tea at Emmeline's at the Conrad London St James Hotel. There are very few things that get me as excited as Christmas events do, so I was more than happy to try out what Conrad London has in store for Christmas while still in September. (And I decided not to post until closer to the holidays...cause I'm timely like that and totally think these things through. Not at all because I've forgotten about blogging for awhile...ahem....)

It's a freaking Christmas SCENE. Seriously, how cool is that?!

If you want to check out any other reviews or find out when the next London Bloggers Tea event is, check out the hashtag #LDNBloggersTea. We're trendy like that, hashtag and all.

Prerequisite tea pouring photo. A must for all tea bloggers.

I will not lie to you, dear reader (hi mom!), this event also lured me in with it's promise of Laurent-Perrier Champagne. If you book the Christmas tea special, you can get this magical, wonderful, Christmas argument resolving, free flowing Champagne. And if you have to have a Christmas afternoon tea with a few pesky out-of-town relatives, what better way to numb the pain and add delight then with Champagne. This healthy tip is brought to you by years of experience. (There you have it folks, LindsayDinsyDay--Inappropriate Humour Since 1984)

Our menu was expertly decided by Chef Zoe and is as follows:

Christmas Tea Menu
A Selection of Savouries

Brussel sprout salad (creamy and surprisingly delicious...though you'd would not be able to convince a child to eat this. And in fact, I am quite like a child, if you hadn't noticed. I waited for at least three people to tell me it was delicious before rudely sticking my finger in it to try it. In fact, they were correct. Very tasty. And I am just full of class to spare.)
Turkey ballotine (always a safe choice. You can't go wrong)
Venison bite (so freaking tasty, I would have this for my Christmas dinner)
Smoked salmon & lemon crème fraiche sandwich
Cured gammon & mustard sandwich
Beetroot & spinach sandwich (absolutely my favourite sandwich, who cares about the rest. Try this.)
*I have no pictures of the sandwiches. I was too busy stuffing my face. 

Freshly Baked Orange and Cranberry and Christmas Spice Scones served with Devonshire clotted cream, homemade strawberry jam and blackberry curd

After we politely gorged ourselves on the savouries, we still had the dessert course ahead. You will most definitely be satisfied with the amount served at this afternoon tea. Not so much that I feel guilty for waste, but just enough to be the kind of snuggly, happy full I so much enjoy. Especially at Christmas. Layers in winter are a girls best friend. Pro tip.

The desserts were brought out with flare and panache. We had harp music playing in the background and you really could not help but feel all Christmas-y and happy with this scene before you. Look how Conrad just plays with your emotions. I just wanted to curl up next to the fire and watch It's A Wonderful Life after this feast.

Cakes and Pastries
Winter berry Christmas tree
Chocolate orange Battenberg present
Snowflake macaroon
White forest yule log
Christmas postcard marshmallows
Mini meringue snowmen
Edible Snow

 Conrad London St James is located at 22-28 Broadway SW1H 0BH. The Christmas Snow Scene Afternoon Tea is £37. The Christmas Snow Scene Afternoon Tea with Free-flowing Laurent-Perrier Champagne is £45.00.

Blogger friend and my favourite afternoon tea partner: Amanda from over at  Rhyme and Ribbons

Lindsay xx

10 September 2014

TImberyard: A London Coffee Review, Sexy Edition

Upon entering Timberyard at Seven Dials you are greeted by sugary delights and the smell of coffee. I'm always hesitant when I first enter a coffee shop. Will they have what I need? My eyes flit around the coffee area...where are the cones, the drip or the aeropress? Do they know what a V60 is or will they give me the soul crushing confused stare when I ask?

First things first:
-Do you have filter?
*sigh of relief*

-Do you take card?
-Yes--no minimum either.
Oh stop, you're making me feel funny in my lady pants.

-I'd like a filter.
-Which one? Tanzanian--syrupy and light, or Guatemalan--hints of chocolate.
Talking dirty now, eh? Okay, okay...deep breaths...

-I'll take Guatemalan and one of those hazelnut brownies.
-Great, where are you sitting?
*Pause, look around the small claustrophobic space with no seat empty...lady boner starts to fall....*
-Do you have seating downstairs?
*Excited again*

I descend downstairs. The first things I see is a large, airy space filled with squishy seats. My breath catches. Can it be true? Do my eyes deceive me? Are those.....numerous outlets on every available wall space???

My heartbeat picks up, I sweat a little. I find a seat and plug in my dying phone. My fingers go to slowly check....could they possibly have...maybe...looks like it...I'm panting now...give it to me baby---- free wifi. Oh my god. I look up in prayer, thanks, and ecstasy. Then my eyes catch sight of the holy grail. Bathrooms for customers. Sweet jesus, I've come home.

They bring my tray with coffee, brownie and a wine bottle full of water and I am ready to propose. Timberyard. This is love, not just a one night stand. I am home.


08 September 2014

Sexy, Sexy: After 30 Edition

Let me tell you, things are different this side of 30. I'm a more stately lady. Regal is a word that comes to mind. So does 'ethereal', 'elegant', 'mature', and, well....total and utter bullshit.

Yup. There is nothing too sexy about my comfy socks, hair in a bun (and inability to remember when I last washed it because it's been up like that so long), snacking on some espresso chocolates, and ignoring my budgeting because I'm too busy nerding out over....umm, ya know, nerdy things I'd rather not divulge at this time.

But alas, I needed to write a damn post cause I haven't in ages and I have found a list I wrote just after my 30th birthday this July. I would like to share it with you.

Please do remember....this is who it's coming from. ALWAYS TRUST THE MULLET:

Ahem, I present to you:
Sexy Things After 30

People that like my dog. Sexy.

Sexy things in general:
-Warm, clean, cozy socks
-A whiskey and a hot bath
-Human beings with good hygiene (what? you do remember how to shower and use deodorant? Stop it, you sexy, sexy person.)
-8 hours of sleep
-Bed by 10pm (so unbelievably sexy...and mythical. Does it happen? Ever? Not for me. Must....watch...another episode of Lost Girl...)
-Knowing the right length of time for a hug. Good length hugs aren't creepy, just comforting and I want more...from everyone.
-Buying me a drink (I am poor. This is just exciting in general and you will be one of my favourites when you buy me a drink. I get super shocked and overly excited. So my birthday was like giving a puppy a room full of tennis balls. WHAT? DRINKS FOR ME? REALLY? I'll have five of them please.)
-Knowing how to make a good cup of coffee. TALENT.
-Beer the colour of coffee. Always sexy to me.
Knowing that this beer is the best beer. SEXY. I love you Smog Rocket.

Breakfast and coffee immediately upon waking. Sexy.

In Men:
-Knowing good beer
-Offers a good foot rub, with wine and a salted caramel brownie (I mean...this is just a working theory. I assume this is very sexy, but it has yet to be offered.)
-Funny guys. But having a good sense of what's comedic works both ways. If you don't like my rude/awkward/weird/inappropriate sense of humour...well, that's just not sexy. If I can make you laugh---->definitely sexy.
-Dudes that read fiction. Just as a rule. I mean, non-fiction is cool. But I want you to understand my obsession with story telling and I just don't think non-fiction can fully encompass all the magnificent ways to tell a story.
-Dudes that do not balk at the word 'feminist'.
-Banter. Do you know what this is? Do not leave me hanging fella. I don't want to put in all the conversational foreplay.
-Guys that are not afraid to rock it at karaoke, but not too good, please. This isn't American Idol. This is cheap beer and songs from the 90s that nobody really remembers all the words to.
-Do you know all the words to California Love? If so, please disregard everything else. I'm sold.
Men who find my ridiculously pale legs sexy...you are DAMN FINE sir.  (Working theory.)

And bonus round, things I find sexy about a place:
-Free wifi, outlets, no credit card minimum, drip coffee, chocolate, bathrooms, lots of space to work (Timberyard, you sexy, SEXY beast. Stop looking at me like that. I am so turned on by you right now...in, like, a hipster kind of way. Post on that soon.)

Additional sexy...Man Crush Monday: Kris Holden Ried from Lost Girl. Ultimate sexy.
Yes. Yes I do have a screenshot of this picture on my phone. What of it?

And last, but more importantly...self confidence. In anyone, man or woman, is always a sexy, sexy thing.

I'm working on it.


27 June 2014

London Bloggers Afternoon Tea at the Milestone Hotel

There's nothing I love more than the English tradition of afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea in England dates back to the early nineteenth century wherein people would feel peckish in the early afternoon and would partake of tea and small sandwiches, and then maybe a walk about the gardens in order to hold themselves over till dinner. Most frequently it was a social occasion for people to catch up and enjoy each others company. So, something that was clearly going to be right up my alley. I am all about the mid-afternoon meal disguised as a snack.

Selena, over at Oh, The Places We Will Go, organized the blogger afternoon tea get-together a few weeks ago. I had seen over social media (Twitter is the best) about her putting together and hosting other afternoon teas at different places around London and I got in touch with her to join up. We used the hashtag #LDNBloggersTea if you want to search through the social media posts about these events.

 Blogging has turned into a great way to meet new people and I was excited to attend something as lovely as afternoon tea as a way to meet other bloggers. A fantastic idea from Selena and very well executed, I might add.

The tea itself was held at Milestone Hotel in Kensington. Right across from Kensington Palace and Gardens. Posh location indeed. And the hotel suited it's surroundings.

Don't be fooled by that photo, above. I may not be wearing my usual attire...pajamas pretending to be school clothes...I just wanted the other bloggers to think I was an adult too. And I put those heels on a block from the hotel, with Kensington Palace staring me in the face, being all judgey. What? Flats are perfectly acceptable commuting shoes. I wear heels for parties I get to sit down at. I'm, like, classy on a part-time basis.

Once we were all seated, we had introductions all around and Selena gave us all a warm welcome. The servers came around and offered us a selection of two different teas, English Breakfast or Early Grey. I'm sure there would have been more of a selection if there had been less of us. I think they may have narrowed our options down because we were a very large group of 23 camera ready bloggers. Typically you'd get to pick what tea you'd want from a large selection at all other afternoon teas I've partook of (and they've been numerous. I love a good afternoon tea.)

All of our sandwiches, scones and desserts were quite tasty, albeit very traditional. I got a little jealous over the other bloggers talking about their last tea they had where it was all very unique selections and the chef would tweet back and forth with them after. I do love a company that has a handle on social media.

But in all honesty, if you're visiting London from outside the UK and haven't had the pleasure of having afternoon tea, I would highly recommend The Milestone Hotel. If you're looking for traditional and quintessential, they've got it right here, and in such beautiful surroundings it's easy to be quite charmed with the place. 

Their desserts definitely held a lot of delight for me. I can't exactly tell you what they are, but they were extremely tasty. A good tip for other places, when you serve afternoon tea it's always helpful to provide a menu of the items at the table so you know what you're eating. Especially if someone wants to blog about it later!
Dessert on a stick. Yup. That's my favourite. With a caramel popcorn stuck on it. I want this for breakfast every day. Or as a reward when I do something good.

I hereby name this 'creamy thing with graham crackers'. Except England doesn't have graham crackers. But this was squishy and crispy all at the same time.

Overall it was a lovely tea. I really went to meet some other lovely London bloggers and I'm really glad I did.

After the tea, I took myself on a walk around Kensington Gardens. It really is remarkable how many people turn up to the parks when the sun is out. Seeing everyone out makes me very happy to be living here.

Purty London. 

*We received a discounted rate for this tea, £30, No review was required and all opinions were my own. And I took a goodie bag of leftovers afterwards. Cause I'm classy and care about the environment. Don't waste that shit man, give it to me.

26 June 2014

For the Love of Beer: Meantime Brewfest

The very first time I got drunk was my first time living away from home, freshmen year at uni. I went to a football players house with my future best friend, Jomi, and I ended up drinking a six pack of Natty Light (AKA 'Natural Light'). I got so sick later that I vomited all over my dorm room (CLASS, right there folks) and had quite the bonding experience with my floormates as they helped shower me off and wash my things. Honest to God, I went to the best University ever, ace people there. Then I did the incredibly awesome (AKA uncouth) thing wherein I called my mother while hungover and cried. Apparently...this is not what you do when completely drunk or hungover, when underage...or at any age, as my mother keeps telling me when I call her drunk or hungover even now. Whatever, Mom, I just want a little sympathy for my poor decisions!

For the following four years of uni, I could not force myself to drink beer. I hated it with a passion. My gag reflex started to flex it's muscle every time I got any whiff of beer.

But lo and behold, thank the Lord, that dark period has passed. Since I graduated I have discovered my love of beer and developed it into a true passion. It's even become quite the family bonding thing for my siblings and I. Almost every time we're all at home, we bound off to another local brewery in Rochester, NY and have an afternoon of tastings. 

My absolute favourite birthday of all time, even surpassing my 21st birthday, would have to be last summer when I turned 29. My little sister planned it all, with my only stipulation that I wanted to tour the local gin and brewery places around the finger lakes. We took a party bus around, my whole family and my best friends Danielle and Brandon, and had a blast tasting local gins and delicious brews.

Since being in London, I haven't gotten to get out there and try what local beers there are to offer here. Which has been quite a disappointment, honestly. The majority of my friends here are not beer drinkers. Even a lot of the guys prefer cider or wine and I often just stick to wine myself in the face of following the crowd when out at the pub.

Luckily, I have found a fellow beer drinker in my classmate, Tonje! Hallelujah! (Also, shout out to my American-DC expat friend, Molly, who also will grab a beer with me anytime.) Tonje and I recently checked out the Meantime Brewing Company Brewfest right over in local Greenwich. If you have a chance when you're in London, I would HIGHLY recommend coming and trying out their craft brews over at their Brewery. Beers from the UK, Europe and even America were on tap at the Brewfest. And a lot of which you can get around London pubs as well.

I think they'll be doing this again later this summer, and I will definitely be attending. We managed to get out to the Brewfest on the last day. A bit rainy, but a really good turnout. And just as a tip to my single lady friends, you should drink beer in London. Out of all the people that turned up for the Brewfest, 90% of them were men. We were quite outnumbered. There were many attractive guys, right alongside some very delicious brews. A lot of the European beers would even be palatable to even the most beer-adverse person. Quite on the fruity side. Some of Tonje's favourite beers tasted like sparkling fruit juice to me. I didn't even know you could do that with a beer. WHERE WAS THIS BEER IN COLLEGE??!
Free glass upon arrival. As well as 6 beer tasting tickets...though mine came with 7 accidentally. We were pretty pumped about that.

My favourite beer out of all of them was a beer from the UK. It's from Harviestoun Brewery, and it's called Ola Dubh "18". A Scottish beer that tastes of whiskey and is dark like coffee. I am such a big fan of the dark beers. The thicker and darker it is, the happier I am. Give me something I might mistake as espresso, please. Additionally, there was a few amazing coffee porters as well!

Another good one was from our very own Meantime Brewery, the London Porter. I will always look for this one whenever I'm at a London pub from now on. This, and the Chocolate Porter, are my go-to beers. And the Londoner Porter is a bit lighter, almost like a Guinness. So don't be frightened by this dark beer.

Inside of Greenwich's Meantime Brewery

You could use your beer tickets inside the Brewery, which made us pretty happy when the rain started to pick up.

The beers were all on tap outside the Meantime Brewery and there were tables for ping pong (my American brain immediately thought they could be used for beer pong instead, obvi).

All the guys working behind the bars were really great at answering any nerdy questions we had, and also gave great suggestions when I'd come up with the explicit demand, 'dark. Give me dark. Beer dark as my soul.' They did not think this was weird at all. Bless.

In our welcome gift bag we also got a really fantastic guide book on all the beers with little sections to take notes. For the next Brewfest, I'll get ultra nerdy and go for the whole weekend and try all of them. I have still kept this guide for future reference....also because I have a crap memory and have more than once just brought the guide with me to Greenwich Union Pub and just shoved it at the bartenders, pointed and grunted 'I want this one.' Class.

We were double fisting by the end. Thanks to that spare ticket I got in my bag. What a happy surprise.
I definitely plan on attending the next one. Hopefully all the ridiculously cute guys show up for the next ones as well. I mean....I'm going for the beer of course...but the cute guys totally help.

Before all this Brewfest delightfulness, I learned the most amazing, wonderful, joyful, loveliest thing about England. You can go to bars and get a beer, or two, to go! So I marched down to my local after my flatmate informed me, chuffed look on my face, and got some beer to have with dinner one night. I was so excited I took pictures of it. Look! Beer at home! Not bought at a supermarket! SO EXCITED. (And it was CHEAPER too!)

Seriously...it does not take much to make me happy.


25 June 2014

Playing Catch Up

Hey there friends, how's life? It feels like so long since I've last overshared way too much information with you that you didn't ask for and secretly wish you could forget. Did you miss reading random posts of weird food, illegally taken photos, and book obsessing? I have so much more to tell you. But give it time. Patience is a virtue. Apparently. I mean, I think so. I'm not sure, cause I don't have any.

Things that have been happening in my life: my grandmother passed away and I went home for whirlwind trip for not only the funeral, but a wedding of a good DC friend. I've been devising away at school coming up with new material for our very last project of the course (what? I can't believe I'm already here so close to the end!), I've been eating many delicious things that I have either posted on Instagram or just talked about obsessively to friends (they missed me posting about it here cause then I wouldn't have talked their ears off about it), and I've been reading loads of good stuff for my summer reading challenge.

Actually, I've kind of forgotten about the summer reading challenge and just been finding loads of good stuff to read and completely abandoned a lot of my books I planned on reading. I just finished Mindy Kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and I'm about half way through Caitlin Moran's book How to Be a Woman. Both absolutely delightful reads that are really making me feel good about myself as a result. I love good comedy writing. I need to sharpen my game and these ladies are showing me how.

A lot of why I haven't been posting recently is because I've been taking most my pictures on my fancy new camera and then avoiding figuring out how to put the pictures on to my computer. Technology frightens me and there is much wine drinking and avoidance when I think about it.

Clearly, I am going to have an interesting time in life.

Here's a few stellar test shots around my neighborhood in London:
This picture is so stellar that it took 3 minutes to upload. ENJOY! I don't know if I have the patience to add more. This will now probably be a one picture per post blog.

Kidding. I did wait. Here's a selfie and another shot of the walk way by my house.
A girl and her camera. A love story. Told in selfies.

Look nature! In London! 

I actually think this took just long enough to write for me to get hungry. So now I'm going to go eat. Are you surprised?